New and clueless

New and clueless

PostBy: WoodlandPA On: Tue Dec 16, 2008 4:18 pm

Hey guys. I've been reading a LOT of threads on here, and so far have been VERY helpful. Here's my situation...
I have a National Coal Boiler...It's old...Really old. It's in an insulated building outside my house, maybe 50 to 75 feet from my house. It has copper pipe run underground to the house, where it hits a heat exchanger on top of my oil furnace. An aquastat tells the blower when to kick ON...I have it set at 100*. I have to "fix" my fire every two to three hours to keep everything in line. Any time after three hours, I'm looking at a LONG time spent bringing the water back up to temp. The boiler itself: Ashpit door, feed door, two flew doors?, and a manual chimney draft control. I can't seem to keep the fire going right. The coal I use, and I think this is 90% of my problem: A 50/50 "mix" of nut and soft coal. Most of the threads I've seen deal with newer style boilers, and wasn't sure if anyone had dealt with an older boiler like this or not. I can take pictures of this beast if needed. Oh, and by the way, I've never had to build coal fires before...So, yes, I'm sure that's part of my problem too :P Thanks for any and all help, and hopefully, I can get to be as good as most of you, and offer my help as well.

-Mike-
WoodlandPA
 
Stove/Furnace Make: National
Stove/Furnace Model: No clue

Re: New and clueless

PostBy: LsFarm On: Tue Dec 16, 2008 5:02 pm

Hi Mike, welcome to the forum, Yes, some photos are needed, of the whole boiler,, the doors with air controls, the flue 'doors' and if you have the fire out, the grates and grate shaking mechanism.

It sounds like you are not building a deep enough fire to last as long as you want.. Most coal fires if 6-8" deep will last at least 8 hours..

Tell us what the fire is doing or not doing after 2-3 hours, And what you have to do to keep the fire making enough heat.. We need to know your shaking and poking technique, how much ash you are producing etc..

Greg L.
LsFarm
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Self-built 'Big Bertha' SS Boiler
Baseburners & Antiques: Keystone 11, Art Garland

Re: New and clueless

PostBy: WoodlandPA On: Tue Dec 16, 2008 5:28 pm

6-8" deep huh? Well, there's yet ANOTHER problem then. I know mine is only about 3-4" deep. I'll get some pics uploaded hopefully by tonight. There's no fire in it, so I can get pics of the grates as well. It's a four section boiler, with one section ommited. I have a small leak, I'm guessing at the one nipple at the bottom, hoping some of that liquid sealer stuff for boilers that they sell at Lowes will take care of it.

Uploading pictures of the chimney, boiler(Open and closed doors), grates, ashpit, bottom of the grates, the chimney on the inside, A thing on the side of the boiler with two "nipples", something on top of the boiler, circulator pump, shaker mech(2), am I missing anything?

Oh, btw...I had to weld together a new ashpit from 1/4" Jr. Channel 12" high...The other ashpit was shot. It's solid the whole way around, I just cut out a hole for the ashpit door.

-Mike-
WoodlandPA
 
Stove/Furnace Make: National
Stove/Furnace Model: No clue

Visit Hitzer Stoves

Re: New and clueless

PostBy: WoodlandPA On: Tue Dec 16, 2008 6:10 pm

Okay, lemme try this once...

<removed dead image link>
Last edited by Richard S. on Mon Nov 18, 2013 3:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: <removed dead image link>
WoodlandPA
 
Stove/Furnace Make: National
Stove/Furnace Model: No clue

Re: New and clueless

PostBy: Freddy On: Tue Dec 16, 2008 6:27 pm

It's a beautiful monster! I can't help you much, just wanted to say that you'll get it, and get it right. The learning curve can take a few weeks, but once down, it will seem easy. Thanks for the pics, we love pics!
Freddy
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 130 (pea)
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Reading piece o' junk in the barn (rice)
Coal Size/Type: Pea size, Superior, deep mined

Re: New and clueless

PostBy: WoodlandPA On: Tue Dec 16, 2008 6:32 pm

Freddy wrote:It's a beautiful monster! I can't help you much, just wanted to say that you'll get it, and get it right. The learning curve can take a few weeks, but once down, it will seem easy. Thanks for the pics, we love pics!


I LOVE that thing, don't get me wrong...It's a BEAST! I'm considering putting in the fourth "belly" this summer...Oh my, the things that thing could do!!! I'm also planning on heating my pool with it this summer as well, just have to get the heat exchanger and stuff. Pictures...Wow, I decided to go light on them figuring people would complain that it took up too much of the thread.

I also have an old Peerless boiler sitting outside the building there...The first year I bought the house I used it, worked the same way as this National, but I had NO CLUE to DRAIN it afterwards and had a MESS! Pipes burst all over, the back "belly" cracked...It was bad, so, now it sits in pieces... :o :( :cry2:
WoodlandPA
 
Stove/Furnace Make: National
Stove/Furnace Model: No clue

Re: New and clueless

PostBy: rockwood On: Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:11 pm

LsFarm wrote:Tell us what the fire is doing or not doing after 2-3 hours, And what you have to do to keep the fire making enough heat.. We need to know your shaking and poking technique, how much ash you are producing etc..


The "coal depth" is probably most of the problem but could you answer the rest of Greg's questions?
rockwood
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Stokermatic coal furnace
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Rockwood Stoveworks Circulator
Baseburners & Antiques: Malleable/Monarch Range
Coal Size/Type: Soft coal: Lump and stoker (slack coal)

Re: New and clueless

PostBy: WoodlandPA On: Tue Dec 16, 2008 10:31 pm

After 2-3 hours, I go out, and have a bunch of solidified soft(Pretty much POWDER garbage) coal on top, with very little red underneath. I poke the entire firebox, which usually has VERY little flame, if any at all. I then proceed to shaking the crap out of it (As I've read, this is a pretty big mistake), then put a fan in the ashpit door to get some sort of flames going. I then throw on about a 1/2 inch-1" layer of coal over the whole thing, I keep doing this 'till the temp is where I want it. After the temp is up where I want it, I throw a large amount of coal over most of the coals, and leave a small area, maybe 1'X1' burning. The chimney damper stays open constantly...I VERY RARELY close that thing. Ash...Well, I get some ash going through, and some of that fine coal. Yet another reason I'm switching to straight nut coal as opposed to the 50/50 mix. But, normally, after about six hours, I have to shovel out the ashpit.

I'm SURE that a lot of you will notice that I'm doing a LOT wrong, or EVERYTHING wrong LoL, that's why I'm here. :D
WoodlandPA
 
Stove/Furnace Make: National
Stove/Furnace Model: No clue

Re: New and clueless

PostBy: CapeCoaler On: Wed Dec 17, 2008 12:34 am

Straight Nut coal and a deep bed should do better than mixing in the soft coal!
Use lump charcoal to start it.
How is the draft with the short 'chimney'?
CapeCoaler
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: want AA130
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine BS#4, Harman MKII, Hitzer 503,...
Coal Size/Type: Pea/Nut/Stove

Re: New and clueless

PostBy: Wood'nCoal On: Wed Dec 17, 2008 7:33 am

Excellent boiler. Use nut coal, check the draft, a baro damper may be needed. Even with the short chimney it may be overdrafting when that beast gets going. Your heat may be going up the chimney and the burn times will be lowered. Remember to fill the firebox to the very top once the fire is established.
Wood'nCoal
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: 1959 EFM 350
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Magnafire Mark I
Coal Size/Type: Rice and Chestnut
Other Heating: Fisher Fireplace Insert

Re: New and clueless

PostBy: LsFarm On: Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:47 am

You need more chimney, to get a consistant draft.. with the short, cold [bare steel] chimney you have, you have to run the fire very hot to keep the chimney hot and drafting.. then as the fire dies down, the chimney cools, and the draft drops.

A masonry chimney or a double or tripple wall SS chimney is needed, and at least 15' above boiler's flue in height..

You also need to load up the coal,, from your description, the fire is just burnt out.. Depth of coal is burn time [duration] surface area is heat output. So you need to load on the coal.. as deep as possible.. In my handfeed boiler I had an 18"+ deep coalbed,, and this was good for 12-14 hours in cold weather.. So load up the coal.. this will help.

The shaker grates are a good design, and your base looks fine, but you should look into a chimney.. a strong, steady draft will allow you to cut back on the air to the fire, still maintaining enough heat for the water, and prolong the burn time.. right now I'm thinking you are using a fair amount of your heat just to create a chimney draft..

Hope this helps..

Greg L
LsFarm
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Self-built 'Big Bertha' SS Boiler
Baseburners & Antiques: Keystone 11, Art Garland

Re: New and clueless

PostBy: Wood'nCoal On: Wed Dec 17, 2008 10:08 am

Agreed, Greg. A taller, better chimney is needed. Without a manometer he has no idea how the chimney is drafting, and it will get cold fast and kill the fire. Without a baro it probably gets going like mad and as soon as the coal is consumed the chimney cools off fast and kills the fire.
Wood'nCoal
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: 1959 EFM 350
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Magnafire Mark I
Coal Size/Type: Rice and Chestnut
Other Heating: Fisher Fireplace Insert

Re: New and clueless

PostBy: WoodlandPA On: Wed Dec 17, 2008 10:31 am

Yeah, the draft isn't all that great at all, unless I throw a fan in front of the ashpit door. 15'...I'll start checking into that. The chimney's you're describing, is it those ones that run about 60+ dollars for a 3' section?
WoodlandPA
 
Stove/Furnace Make: National
Stove/Furnace Model: No clue

Re: New and clueless

PostBy: cArNaGe On: Wed Dec 17, 2008 1:46 pm

That is for the Stainless Chimney or Class A. You should look into a masonary chimney. Just block with a clay flue liner. I just replaced my chimney a few months ago. $500 and it is 45 feet tall. That is minus the labor.
cArNaGe
 

Re: New and clueless

PostBy: titleist1 On: Wed Dec 17, 2008 2:12 pm

While looking at the pics I noticed how close the paper on the insulation appears to be to the flu pipe. Just curious, is it really as close as it appears, how hot does your flue pipe get and have you ever singed it?
titleist1
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Harman Mag Stoker (old style) one in basement, one in workshop
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Mark III on standby for long power outages
Coal Size/Type: Rice/Anthracite; Nut/Anthracite

Visit Hitzer Stoves